Four Deserving Hall of Famers, Omar Vizquel New to Ballot by Craig Edwards December 19, 2017 As I noted in my post at the end of last week regarding Hall of Fame holdovers, the ballot is a bit of a mess right now. There are already seven players who’ve received at least 45% of the vote — generally a pretty good gauge of worthiness when it comes to the Hall — plus a handful of others (Larry Walker, in particular) who are lower on the ballot but deserve induction, as well. Joining that group of deserving candidates this offseason is a collection of four additional players who merit a place in the Hall — as well as Omar Vizquel, who is getting a lot of votes in the early going. This year’s entries include one no-doubter (Chipper Jones), another who’s deserving and likely to earn induction on the strength of his offensive contributions (Jim Thome), and two more players who merit selection but whose case rests largely on defensive contributions (Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen). Before we get to the contenders, let’s take a brief look at the players who’ve earned spots on the ballot with solid careers but lack much of a case for the Hall. For the players below, I’ve included several metrics, including Hall of Fame rating and JAWS. If you’re unfamiliar with Hall of Fame rating, you can find the introduction here. It works similarly to Jay Jaffe’s JAWS except that it uses FanGraphs WAR instead of Baseball-Reference and measures peak in a different way, so as to encompass all of a player’s good seasons. HOF AVG and MEDIAN denote the average and median HOF Ratings of players at a candidate’s respective position. BBWAA AVG and MEDIAN denote the same thing, except consider only those players voted in by writers (and not those inducted by, say, the Veterans’ Committee). Hall of Fame Ballot: Under 35 WAR Name HOF Points WAR HOF RATING HOF AVG HOF MEDIAN BBWAA AVG BBWAA MEDIAN JAWS JAWS Pos LivanHernandez 14 34.5 24.3 55.5 50.8 66.9 63.3 29.4 62.1 CarlosZambrano 13 30.6 21.8 55.5 50.8 66.9 63.3 41.8 62.1 CarlosLee 9 27.5 18.3 55.7 49.7 62.7 52.5 25.8 53.3 KerryWood 10 23.7 16.9 55.5 50.8 66.9 63.3 26.4 62.1 OrlandoHudson 5 21.1 13.1 59.8 52.8 77.1 65.4 29.1 56.9 AubreyHuff 9 17.1 13.1 59.1 57.0 66.3 57.1 21.4 54.6 HidekiMatsui 4 12.9 8.5 55.7 49.7 62.7 52.5 21.3 53.3 BradLidge 3 11.6 7.3 22.3 18.7 22.3 18.7 10.3 34.4 JasonIsringhausen 2 11.2 6.6 22.3 18.7 22.3 18.7 12.7 34.4 Here are some notes on each player: Livan Hernandez had a nice career, including the receipt of a World Series MVP award with the Marlins in 1997, but passed much of his time as a roughly average innings-eater with three seasons above four WAR. In every season between 2003 to 2007, Carlos Zambrano exceeded 200 innings and averaged four wins a season, but after a couple more decent seasons, the productive part of his career was basically over after 2010. Carlos Lee was a good hitter and durable player, recording a 112 wRC+ and 628 plate appearances per season over his 14-year career. He hit at least 24 homers in 11 straight years. His overall defense probably wasn’t as bad as you remember if you watched mostly the latter half of his playing days and, as a left fielder, he supplied enough pop to be an above-average player. Kerry Wood has the single-game strikeout record with 20, but arm problems derailed a promising career and forced him to the bullpen before retiring after the 2012 season. Orlando Hudson put up average offensive numbers with solid defense at second base over the course of his 11-year career. Aubrey Huff was a decent power hitter back when the Devil Rays were still a thing, and he will always have the 2010 championship season with the San Francisco Giants in which he put up six wins. That campaign was sandwiched, however, by two years during which he recorded a combined three wins below replacement level. Hideki Matsui didn’t make it to the United States until his age-29 season but did last 10 years in the big leagues with a 119 wRC+. Brad Lidge was a really good reliever over his first three years as a major leaguer, a pretty good one for three years after that, and then proceeded to retain a big-league job for the last four years of his career. Jason Isringhausen racked up 300 saves and was a fairly effective closer for a number of years with the A’s and Cardinals until he was replaced midway through the 2006 season, St. Louis eventually winning the World Series with Adam Wainwright at the back of the bullpen. Now here’s a group of guys who were very good but probably fall short of the Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame Ballot: Very Good Name HOF Points WAR HOF RATING HOF AVG HOF MEDIAN BBWAA AVG BBWAA MEDIAN JAWS JAWS Pos JohanSantana 30 45.4 37.7 55.5 50.8 66.9 63.3 48.1 62.1 KevinMillwood 22 46.1 34.1 55.5 50.8 66.9 63.3 27.1 62.1 JohnnyDamon 19 44.5 31.8 64.6 49.2 92.1 77.1 44.4 57.9 JamieMoyer 15 48.2 31.6 55.5 50.8 66.9 63.3 41.8 62.1 ChrisCarpenter 20 39.1 29.6 55.5 50.8 66.9 63.3 32.1 62.1 OmarVizquel 16 42.6 29.3 55.0 52.5 62.0 57.8 36 54.8 I’ve already written about Omar Vizquel and about just how terrible he was on offense, so there’s no need to go over it again. Chris Carpenter was an above-average pitcher with the Blue Jays for a few seasons, sustained an injury, and then reemerged with the Cardinals from 2004 to 11. While limited by injury a bit in St. Louis, as well, Carpenter nevertheless pitched like an ace during six healthy seasons, averaging roughly five wins each. That period included a Cy Young award, two other top-three finishes, and two World Series Championships. He started three of the seven games in the 2011 World Series, including the clincher, and had a 2.00 ERA in four World Series starts. He has 108 postseason innings with a 3.00 ERA and a 4.30 FIP. Jamie Moyer pitched for a really, really long time. Overall, he was an average pitcher, which is pretty remarkable over 4,000 innings. Nathaniel Rakich recently compared Moyer’s case to Omar Vizquel, and the two are pretty close in value. Johnny Damon amassed a lot of hits (2769), had a good walk rate, didn’t strike out much, and stole over 400 bases at a high rate (79.8%). He’s one of 10 players with at least 400 steals and 200 homers, though only half the members of that fraternity are Hall of Famers. His less-than-stellar defense balanced out his very good baserunning, leaving an above-average hitter (105 wRC+) on a few pretty well known championship teams. He was often good, with four four-WAR seasons and another seven above two wins, but he was never great. Kevin Millwood finished his career with an ERA and FIP both around four, and that is pretty good given that his career came about during the late 90s and early 2000s. Millwood had five season of at least four wins and finished third in the Cy Young in 1999. His numbers look better than I expected at first glance. There are going to be some Sandy Koufax comparisons when it comes to Johan Santana due to his short career and excellence when healthy. Santana was great, winning two Cy Young awards and finishing third twice. The comparisons to Koufax are still a bit unrealistic, though. From 2004 to -06, Santana averaged 6.9 WAR, which is great. Koufax, on the other hand, averaged 7.7 WAR between 1961 and 1966, which is otherworldly given the production came in double the years of Santana’s best. Santana was great, but he really doesn’t come close to Koufax in terms of greatness. If you prefer Baseball Reference’s version of WAR, Santana’s 7.1 average WAR from 2004 to -08 is impressive, but it still doesn’t match Koufax’s 7.8 bWAR over a six-year period. Then we have the guys who should make the Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame Ballot: Should Be In HOF Points WAR HOF RATING HOF AVG HOF MEDIAN BBWAA AVG BBWAA MEDIAN JAWS JAWS Pos ChipperJones 62 84.6 73.3 57.3 52.6 71.9 75.3 65.8 55.2 ScottRolen 53 70.1 61.6 57.3 52.6 71.9 75.3 56.8 55.2 AndruwJones 53 67.1 60.1 64.6 49.2 92.1 77.1 54.6 57.9 JimThome 46 68.9 57.5 59.1 57.0 66.3 57.1 57.2 54.6 We have one slam dunk in Chipper Jones. The 1999 MVP winner shouldn’t really need a big write-up, but his 85 WAR places him in a tie with George Brett for fourth place all time among third baseman, trailing only Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, and Wade Boggs by that measure. As for Jim Thome, it seems as though his 612 home runs are going to get him into the Hall of Fame, although I will also note that, of the 85 players who played long enough to compile 10,000 plate appearances (including 52 Hall of Famers), only Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds have a higher walk rate than Thome’s 16.9%. I’ve previously addressed Scott Rolen’s candidacy at length, and Paul Swydan discussed Andruw Jones’ candidacy. The addition of four deserving candidates creates a lot of tough calls for voters who are allowed to make just 10 selections. If I had one, I think I would take the four new deserving candidates above along with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, and Larry Walker. If I could expand my ballot, I would probably include Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, and Gary Sheffield.